Barghouti: PA elections big step to statehood

The upcoming Palestinian Authority parliament election is a major step toward Palestinian statehood, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said Sunday in his first TV interview from an Israeli prison. Barghouti told the Arab satellite TV station Al Jazeera that he hopes the vote will produce "a national reform government that enjoys a wide popular and parliamentary base." Barghouti is the top candidate for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party, which is fighting off a strong electoral challenge from Hamas. In the excerpt run by Al Jazeera, Barghouti did not mention Fatah by name. He said Palestinians would be honoring their "martyrs" by casting their votes, then named the late Yasser Arafat as well as Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004.